This insert can turn any tote bag into a more organized work bag - here's why it's worth $95
- Cuyana's $95 portable tote insert is a fan-favorite.
- Like most organizational tools, I underestimated how nice it would feel to know where everything in my cavernous purse was without needing to methodically remove everything first.
- The insert has a clip for keys, a laptop sleeve, water bottle holder with an elastic top, and adds structure to softer tote silhouettes.
Like many women I know, I am perennially standing to the side of something. At movie theaters, subway terminals, grocery store checkout lines, and outside my apartment door, always standing adjacent to something while trying to locate some essential item, like a wallet or keys, in order to move forward.
It's my own fault. I love the freedom of a big, cavernous bag, and given how popular the minimalist tote shape is, I'm not the only one. But, like most large, unstructured spaces, they're only as convenient as they are organized. Throwing a mess of books, keys, wallets, ChapStick, and laptop without rhyme or reason and hoping the necessary item rises to the top is not the key to a 100% success rate.
For those looking to add some (stylish) method to their bag's madness, cult-favorite leather bag brand Cuyana has a great tote insert that keeps selling out. It's $95, which is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but the cost is worth the convenience.
The insert is made from pliable yet structured micro-suede, and you can pop it into other unstructured totes as well as Cuyana's bags (just check the measurements to make sure they're compatible first). It comes in four colors: black and blush, blush, dark stone and blush, and caramel. They're all currently in stock, and that's rare enough to be noteworthy since it's such a popular item.
The inserts have a space for a water bottle, a key clip, laptop sleeve, side pocket for your phone, and another for essentials like a wallet, movie ticket, lip balms, or subway card. All in all, it's still minimalist and unobtrusive, but it provides just enough organizational structure to a big tote to make the thing convenient in every setting.
We put it to the test with two Insider Picks editors who pack their whole lives in their bags - here's what they thought of the Cuyana Tote Organization Insert
I have the Cuyana insert in blush, and it's a surprisingly good use of $95 if you prioritize style as well as functionality. The micro-suede looks high-end and low-profile so it's not immediately obvious it's an insert rather than the purse itself, and it's portable so I can pop it into other totes I own without removing everything first. And since it's supple (read: malleable) microsuede, it can even work in totes that are slightly smaller than what it was designed for; there will be some folds, but it'll still function.
The main standout, aside from looks, though, is that there are exactly enough pockets for the things I need without adding a ton I don't. The only difference is that now I spend less of my life rifling through books and loose papers at a 30-degree angle to a cashier or movie theater employee.
If you're looking for a stylish tote insert, Cuyana's is a good option and one I remember I'm happy to own at least a few times every day. There are cheaper options out there, but you may just want to invest in something nice to go with the nice purse you already invested in before. - Mara Leighton, reporter
Like Mara, I'm also always standing to the side of something and searching for my phone, wallet, keys, lip balm, or water bottle. I have the Cuyana Classic Zipper Tote, and while I love it and use it nearly every day to go to work, it is literally a black hole. Once I put something in there, I won't be able to find it until the next day.
As a commuter that needs to make the most of three hours on the train, I also need to pack a lot. In addition to my phone, wallet, and keys, my daily haul usually includes a laptop and case, Kindle, makeup bag, clunky water bottle (or coffee thermos), almond butter or protein bar, an apple, and a light jacket. Sometimes I'll have a pair of heels with me to change into when I get to the office, like my Margaux heels.
I have the black tote organizer which, in hindsight, makes it hard to see the depths of my bag, but at least the organizational pockets are infinitely helpful. Everything now has its own dedicated spot, and I'm able to stash small items like headphones and hand sanitizer in a side compartment that's separate from the main pocket.
I particularly like the elastic bottle pocket to keep my water bottle or thermos upright and safe from leaks, and the small keychain clasp so I won't jam my fingers searching for keys in front of my building for 10 minutes - or until the next person who lives in my building gets home.
The organizer also does a great job in creating more shape and structure. The tote has a flat bottom, but it'll lose its shape quickly once I start putting in heavy or sharp things, like a laptop.
Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the tote organizer. It's been super helpful to have a dedicated spot for everything I bring, since streamlining isn't a realistic option. - Jada Wong, editor
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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